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It happened in Athens
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-04-13 08:38:09
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When the tragic events in Helsinki, Finland unveiled and we all read about the young boy that shot his classmates and teachers in the local school I wrote an article talking about the identity crisis and the chances the new generation has to deal with and how all these effect them. And the events have no ending but followed by another one in Virginia, USA, another one in Germany and another one in Finland and now one in Athens, Greece. It is like a virus.

The characteristics of the shooters in all cases are similar; lonely characters, reserved to themselves, spending a lot of time reading and with the internet all of them have an interest in guns and generally in weapons. All of them left videos on YouTube showing them practicing shooting and all of them left notes behind them saying how much they hate life and the people around them promising to take with them as more as they can.

But before we generalize let’s have a better look in the background of the boy that shot his classmates in a professional orientation school in Athens. In the first middle of the 20th century a lot of Greeks immigrated abroad for many reasons including the ones who moved to east European counties including Russia for political reasons, especially during the civil war 1945-50. The majority of those people were communists or at least left wing and afraid of the result of the civil war seen that their future included jail, exile and sometimes even death. Of course they didn’t find the socialist paradise they dreamed of and the only thing remained was the dream for the return and of course Greece took mythical portions in their mind and hearts. If you include to them the Greeks who lived for centuries in the shores of the Black Sea then you have a big number of them wishing to return.

And when the Berlin Wall fell they had their chance. This is when the then Greek government did a mistake, a conservative government though feeling thrilled with the chance and the end of the political valiant the foreign office started giving Greek passports to anybody who could prove that they were originally Greeks and from one day to the other thousands started packing for the big return a lot of them not necessarily Greeks, you see the local mafia was started taking over and thousands return to their dreamland including the parents of the young man. Of course what they found was far away from paradise and the young man grew up seeing his parents escaping from one struggle to survive and arriving to another sometimes even worst because now they had to deal with the capitalist reality where is not the party who’s using them but their fellow compatriots.

Then came the immigrants, the illegal immigrants, the refuges, the economic immigrants and sometimes when the Finns complain about immigration I feel like laughing, how can you compare the 180,000 totally controlled immigration in Finland with the over 1,5 million at least of uncontrolled immigration in Greece a country one sixth the size of Finland. Uncontrolled immigration because in a country literally surrounded from sea and countries with citizens that see Greece as the paradise and the solution to all their problems since Greece is a full member of the dreamed EU illegal immigration is not just a daily issue but an hourly issue. And the truth is that this brought the whole country in a crisis.

Of course the general economic crisis was what was missing to make the whole thing a serious social crisis. Suddenly in a country that has been victimized from prejudice and racism, in a country where there is no family that hasn’t got a member immigrated abroad for different reasons we see prejudice and racism. Suddenly to call you …Albanian it became a swear and the Greeks who returned from eastern Europe became second class citizens who didn’t have only to deal with the discrimination but antagonized in jobs level from the other immigrants and often losing what they thought rightfully theirs. That’s exactly where the boy grew up.

A few months ago Athens met with the worst nightmare, riots that left burned houses and shops in the center of the capital, riots that expanded in all the major Greek cities fast with a catastrophic result. Despite to what the Greek government tried to say after following the older example of the French governed these people were not some kind of orchestrated criminal minds but young people often in the age of fifteen and sixteen that wanted back what was stolen from them, their right to the dream and they acted with the only way they knew violence. These kids seen that it doesn’t matter how much and how hard they are studying the road to the unemployment is just the same and it didn’t matter what they wished or wanted their future looks really dark were asking their right and that’s the society this young man was brought to live, a second class citizen with his dreams dismissed before even starting.

I’m not trying to excuse his act, I think is terrible what happened and it is even worst that he wanted to take with him others who have no difference with him just like the other boys in Finland, in USA and Germany. What I’m trying to do is understand what triggered his hand and perhaps that will lead to prevail future incidents something the states have failed in the worst possible way. That in Finland you can have legally license to carry a gun is wrong and the government will change that according to all said but is this enough? It didn’t stop the boy in Greece who after all was not a high school student but in an age that the state considered him responsible enough to give him the right to vote.

I have said it before and I’m going to repeat it here, our society is in a crisis and unfortunately the victims are the young people and what happened with the young man in Athens is exactly the same thing that happened with the young man in Kauhajoki, with the young man in Virginia and the young man in Germany, their anxiety in front of the social problems and their desperation regarding their dark future led them to the most violent act and they made it even worst by taking with them more people. And here comes the responsibility of the state that prioritized the wellbeing of the few often the ones who hold the money and the power ignoring the people who actually constitute the state. They are the responsible with all their mistakes that the society is led in a crisis by separating the people and I give you a small example how the state can be responsible of this separation. What does it mean illegal immigration? How somebody executes his or hers right to life, a better life can be excluded from his or her chances called an illegal immigrant given a status that from its beginning creates a prejudice? Why instead of helping the people the states are troubled on how they are going to help the banks?

The violent reaction of all these boys is like a virus and I’m really worrying that this is not the end. More boys and girls that have seen what happened and feel the same are going to follow the example and it doesn’t matter if I regret what I just wrote or not. I suppose I gone a bit far but as I said before understanding the why and identifying who holds the responsibility we might understand how we can come to a solution and how. At least in the Athens’s incident there are not so many killed the victims are mainly wounded, seriously but with a lot of hope to survive. The big question now is if our society is going to survive more hits like that and I’m really sorry to say this is not the end.

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AP2009-04-13 18:20:27
And they get their 5 minutes of fame, which is better than live their whole life as losers (they think). In the news it said he blamed his colleagues for "picking on him". Man, if I would have killed all the colleagues who ever picked on me! - somehow, by how much losers we all were, that never even crossed our minds for 1 second.
Recent statistics show that more than 70% of the children in the world (attention: in the world, not just in the western world), when they are asked what they want to do when they grow up, they answer "I wanna be famous". "Doing what?" - the enquirers asked, curious. "It doesn't matter" - most of them explained - "I will think about that later". It seems like this young Greek boy got famous the wrong way. When the purpose of your life is to become famous, what sense does it all have? And it doesn't matter how you achieve it, really - as long as you stand out from the crowd. How narcissistic can that be, seriously?

AP2009-04-13 18:29:44
ps - What monsters are we creating? Anyway, I really do think that such behaviours are on the extreme opposite from the boy who goes out with friends to the streets to express his discontentment and defend the rights of his generation as a whole (and can end up killed by the police). It's pretty different from actually KILLING your "brothers".

AP2009-04-13 18:38:30
How can someone not feel the minimum trace of love for his generation (I won't even write about feeling attached or committed to anyone in it and their collective or individual dreams), that's still a mystery to me.

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